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Sunday, June 12, 2011

going home, good-byes and nature vs. nurture.

So two weeks ago, when i arrived at school this session, my mother sent me a message telling me my aunt was in the hospital and that she was flying to toronto and then taking the bus down to see her with my cousin the following week.

Over the last two weeks I found out that it was unlikely my aunt was going to be leaving the hospital. i knew i had to go.

after my classes ended, i flew to new york and then took a bus up into canada where i met up with my mom, my cousin and my uncle and his grand-daughter and we all went to the hospital to see my aunt. to say good-bye.

i never grew up with this family.

from the time i was three, the story goes, i had a bag packed and under my bed ready to go and visit family, my dad's family. the first time i took the greyhound alone i was three. i traveled all around saskatchewan between my ukrainian family, my aunts, and my cousins.

a few years ago at a family reunion, one of my cousins called me the black sheep of the family. i never really fit in and he called me on it. i loved growing up in a family that really did have so much culture to embrace, but most of my dad's side of the family are conservative farmers. home grown, salt of the earth kind of people. they are good people, and it was a good family to grow up in. my cousin's "accusation" though, was so true.

sitting around my aunts hospital bed with family that i've only really come to know in adulthood was a revelation. this is why i am who i am.

dark. sardonic. we joked about my aunts death and who was going to be the next one. there are bets. it was like a black episode of the odd couple. i fit in, without missing a beat. there is no question of nature vs. nurture here. my irish catholic heritage runs strong in my blood.

it was a long journey to get to my aunts side and i am at risk of not being allowed back in the country. my aunt may get out of the hospital. she talks as though she will, but she has congestive heart failure and only has 5% of her lung capacity left and from what i understand, thats the beginning of it.  the hospital isn't doing much for her. her sheets were filthy. so after 16 hours of travel, i changed them so she could lay in a clean bed and i placed the compression socks that she was wearing on her legs the right way. two very small insignificant acts, but if i could do anything for my aunt the last time i was ever going to see her, anything to make her more comfortable. i would.

it wasn't a sad day. there were lots of laughs. lots of stories of their childhood. i'm glad i made it for this. i'm glad the i am meeting the family and getting to know them. understanding where it is i come from.


  1. Oh Tracy!! what a journey indeed. Thinking of you!

  2. Thank you Sonya! I miss you and your family. i hope are planning on being home for christmas!